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28 Jul 2021

Helping seniors prepare for emergencies

The ‘In Case of Emergency’ project at the Morrinsville Selwyn Centre proves timely, in light of COVID-19

A well-timed project aiming to help seniors get through the unpredictable has taken place at the Morrinsville Selwyn Centre this year.

The ‘In Case of Emergency’ (ICE) project seeks to develop resilience in older people so they can continue to live in their community whenever the unforeseen happens. First piloted with two Auckland Selwyn Centres in 2019/20, it has been implemented by guests of the Morrinsville Centre which meets on Thursday mornings in St Matthew's parish hall.

With the guidance of Auckland Council’s Emergency Management team who had previously given presentations on ICE topics at a number of Selwyn Centres, the Foundation’s Selwyn Centres Community Liaison developed a course outline for a series of ten workshops, designed to be completed by way of an activity by Centre guests. The content focussed on the preparations that older people could make in advance to help them get through any emergency situations that might arise. Harnessing the lived experience and combined wisdom and advice of guests who had been involved in emergencies previously, the workshops featured practical tips and best practice ideas on how to get prepared, based on material supplied by Auckland Council and the Ministry of Civil Defence.   

Over the course of the programme, Centre guests made a ‘Stay at Home Box’ and a ‘Getaway Bag’ containing supplies that might be needed in different kinds of emergencies, such as power outages, storms or earthquakes. The Centre coordinator then followed up each week to review the contents and to suggest other potential items that guests might collect for the following week’s session, and this prompted much group discussion and recollections of previous examples of resilience and resourcefulness in the face of adversity. The project then came to a close once the guests had completed their planning and final collation of all the supplies necessary to cover a range of emergencies.

The ICE initiative subsequently proved to be extremely timely indeed, as the COVID Alert Level increased the week after completion. The Selwyn Centre guests have since updated their plans to include learnings from the COVID-19 lockdowns, which has also enabled people to share their more recent experiences and the needs that became apparent during this unprecedented situation.

Selwyn Centre Coordinator in Morrinsville, Mary Allen, says: ‘It’s so important to prepare for emergencies and, from the way the guests participated in the ICE project, it’s obvious they feel the same. Thank you so much to The Selwyn Foundation for facilitating such an invaluable programme for us.’ 

Our thriving Selwyn Centre parish partnership with Anglican parishes around the upper North Island and in Christchurch is the cornerstone of our charitable programme to combat loneliness and social isolation in older people. There are now 40 such Centres, with the most recent having opened in May 2021 at the Elder Care Centre in the Holy Trinity Church in the Avonside area of Christchurch.

For information on a Selwyn Centre near you click here and on volunteering opportunities, visit our volunteering page.

Guests of the Morrinsville Selwyn Centre with the Centre coordinator Mary Allen (front row, second from right).
Auckland Council Emergency Management’s ‘What would you do?’ booklet and ‘Make a Plan’ information card.